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Two health groups call for tax on sugary drinks; IU Health expert weighs in

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association are calling for excise taxes and limits on marketing sugary drinks to teenagers and children. An IU Health expert explains the risk of consuming sugary drinks. 

On average, children consume more than 30 gallons of sugary drinks every year. IU Health dietitian Rachel Weisenburger says it’s best to stay away from sports drinks and sodas. Those types of drinks are bound to have more sugar. Weisenburger says the best option is water. If you want to consume some sort of sports drink, Weisenburger says it’s best to go for the low calorie and less sugar option. 

Weisenburger says the obesity rate for the state of Indiana has increased over the years. In 1995, the obesity rate was 20 percent. Now, it has increased to 34 percent. Weisenburger says it’s easy to consume 500 or 600 calories in a few sugary drinks. 

The AAP and AHA recommend: 

  • Local, state and national policymakers should consider raising the price of sugary drinks, such as via an excise tax, along with an accompanying educational campaign. Tax revenues should go in part toward reducing health and socioeconomic disparities.

  • Federal and state governments should support efforts to decrease sugary drink marketing to children and teens.

  • Healthy drinks such as water and milk should be the default beverages on children’s menus and in vending machines, and federal nutrition assistance programs should ensure access to healthy food and beverages and discourage consumption of sugary drinks.

  • Children, adolescents, and their families should have ready access to credible nutrition information, including on nutrition labels, restaurant menus, and advertisements.

  • Hospitals should serve as a model and establish policies to limit or discourage the purchase of sugary drinks.